Lewis Center for the Arts opens its doors

The $330 million project is quite a spectacle

On Friday, October 6, 2017, the Lewis Center for the Arts officially opened with a ribbon-cutting ceremony. President Christopher Eisgruber, the Wallace brothers, Steven Hall, and the Lewis family, among other major donors of the project in attendance celebrated the completion of this multi-million dollar complex.

"The Lewis Center for the Arts has given a new force and focus to programs in the creative arts. It allows us to expand our offerings and provide artistic opportunities regardless of major or career plans." says President Eisgruber in his opening statement.

The vision began with Princeton’s 19th President, Shirley Tillman, he said. Peter Lewis, who previously donated $60 million to establish the Lewis Library on Washington Road, brought that vision to life, Eisgruber said. With his help, Princeton expanded its course offerings in the arts and brought to campus an array of artists, in various stages of their careers, to teach and inspire our students.

The design of the building has distinctly Princetonian facets. Architect Steven Hall, the designer of the center, incorporated Princeton's essential architectural traditions into the building's design. For example, the dimensions of the plaza are the same as those of Jolene Courtyard and the walls emulate Blair Arch.

"This building allows us to take art away from the margins and bring it into the proper sphere of the university" says Wendy Heller, Chair of the Department of Music at Lewis.

The director of the center quoted from Erasmus: "Give light and the darkness will disappear of itself” .

"This building is a light box," he said. "There is a tremendous amount of logic to how this building is built; it allows us to take our students seriously, and it allows them move out into the world with competence and imagination and vision."

"One of Peter’s favorite quotes by Thornton Wilder was 'Money is like manure. There's no reason to keep it piled up. The chief purpose of it is to be spread around and encourage young things to grow'," he added.

And that is exactly what the Lewis family did. With Shirley Tilghman's vision and the generosity of the Lewis family, as well as many others, the Lewis Center for the Arts made possible a new frontier of art and creativity on Princeton's campus. Peter Lewis left a mark on Princeton of not only generosity, but faith in the arts, a legacy that will inspire students for generations to come.

Princeton University